Progress Report on The Valley of Amazement and some other random stuff (by Jill)


the Valley of Amazement coverI got some reading done yesterday, but not as much as I would have liked. I had to do “adulting” things like vacuum the floors and organize the linen closet, as well as procure my birthday “gift” from Panera Bread, a free pastry, hooray! I did get some reading done at Panera, which I haven’t done in ages, so that was nice.

After Violet returns to the courtesan life following the theft of her daughter, she meets a man named Perpetual, who is mourning the loss of his wife. They bond over their grief, and Violet convinces herself that she loves him. He convinces her to become his wife and travel to his ancestral home, three hundred miles away from Shanghai. All is, of course, not as it seems with Perpetual, and Violet and Magic Gourd, along with a woman named Pomelo, escape from the house, and that’s as far as I got.

The next couple chapters flash back to Violet’s mother Lulu, back when she was still known as Lucia, in San Francisco, in 1897. She’s about to meet Violet’s father, and her voice is so much different than I would have expected based on Violet’s impression of her in the early chapters of the book. For example, “At the age of eight, I was determined to be true to My Self. Of course, that made it essential to know what My Self consisted of. My manifesto began the day I discovered that I had once possessed an extra finger on each hand, twins to my pinkies…. Few can understand the shock of a little girl learning that part of her was considered undesirable and thus needed to be violently removed. It made me fearful that people could change parts of me, without my knowledge and permission. And thus began my quest to know which of my many attributes I needed to protect, the whole of which I named scientifically ‘My Pure Self-Being’ (434-5).” Where is the selfish, money-driven madam of a top end courtesan house in Shanghai here? Hopefully I’ll get to see how this idealistic girl turns into the woman who I met at the beginning of the book.

I’ve got about a hundred and fifty pages to go, and things have picked up a lot—I still think Tan’s editor needed a stronger hand, but the story is moving along at a much faster clip now. The time Violet spends in Moon Pond Village is quite well-done, and Perpetual is a good villain. I only hope that Amy Tan leaves enough time to finish the story right and get poor Violet the happy ending she has earned after all the hardships she has endured. She has more than made up for being a spoiled willful child at this point.

I’ll be back on Tuesday, hopefully to finish off my reviews of The Valley of Amazement, but who knows? I just started a five-day stretch at work, and you never know how that’s going to go, especially at the end of Dental Month, and when you’re trying to get back into doing Jillian Michaels workouts again….

This entry was posted in Amy Tan, Fiction - general, Fiction - Historical, Reviews by Jill, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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